Tag Archive: Lone Nile of Sudan


20 April 2016

Khartoum — The strike by the students of the University of Khartoum, in protest against a government decision to move faculties to the outskirts of the city, is now into its third consecutive day. All classes have been suspended as lecturers and professors have joined in solidarity with the students.

The strikers demand the release of the students who were detained during the demonstrations over the past week. They also continue to protest the sale of university premises, ostensibly “to make way for tourist attractions”.

A student from the University of Khartoum told Radio Dabanga that classes have been halted at all the faculties because of the sit-in and explained that university professors have taken-up the strike in solidarity with the students.

The student added that on Tuesday, in the medical complex, students carried out a sit-in inside the compound buildings demanding the release of the detained students.

He said that on Monday, the security forces arrested students Sharafuldin Adam and Mohammed Saleh Abdul Raheem and took them to an unknown destination.

He added that the arrest of the students came against the backdrop of the Darfuri students association organizing of political gathering at the University of El Nilain to speak out about the current political situation in Darfur.

The Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) in Khartoum announced that the head of the party in Khartoum North Locality, Abdul Rahman Mahdi, was subjected to an attempted attack by an unidentified vehicle in Shambat on Monday evening. In a statement on Tuesday. The SCP explained that the attempted attack was by a truck without plates. The Party considered that as “representing a new phase in the authorities’ confrontation with the opposition in the country”.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201604210467.html.

Wed Oct 12, 2011

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Hundreds of Sudanese took to the streets of central Khartoum on Tuesday to demonstrate against high food prices and to demand better public transport, witnesses said.

Protests are rare in Sudan but anger has been building over an economic crisis and spiraling inflation after the country lost most of its oil reserves to newly-independent South Sudan.

About 300 people protested in the main bus and taxi station in Khartoum to demand better public transport, witnesses said. Students from the university faculties joined the crowd to protest against food inflation.

“The students shouted: ‘No to high prices. Bread, bread for the poor,” a witness said, declining to be identified. Police arrived at the scene but did not interfere, he said.

Hundreds of people also protested at a bus station in the suburb of Omdurman, another witness said. The protesters then marched on a Nile bridge linking Omdurman with Khartoum and started throwing stones at private cars and police vehicles, the witness said.

Police said in a statement that a group of citizens had thrown stones at cars crossing the bridge, adding that it had prevented “acts of sabotage.”

Sudan has a poor public transport system with commuters mostly relying on private taxis and mini-buses which struggle to meet demand and often get accused of overcharging.

Many Sudanese have been hit hard by inflation which reached 20.7 percent in September due to high food prices, while the Sudanese pound has dived on the black market in past weeks.

The government has reacted with a package of measures, including temporarily waiving duties on basic food imports.

But economists doubt inflation will ease much as Sudan lost most of its oil reserves when South Sudan became independent, reducing the inflow of foreign currency needed to pay for imports, leading to scarcities.

The economy is dependent on oil and small-scale gold exports. The government wants to diversify the economy but progress has been slow, which experts blame on U.S. trade sanctions and poor planning.

© Thomson Reuters 2016 All rights reserved

Source: Reuters.

Link: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE79B00420111012.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

As European countries close their doors and neighboring countries struggle to cope, an increasing number of Syrian refugees are seeking refuge in an unlikely destination – Sudan.

Battling with an economic crisis and rebellions in its own far-flung hinterlands, the African country has nevertheless opened its doors, offering Syrians safety and citizen status, with its allure of access to public healthcare and schools, Reuters reported.

A survey conducted by the Syrian Support Committee in July 2015 found more than 100,000 Syrians living in the country as a direct result of the war, a number that has since grown.

Anas Khalid, a Syrian who arrived in Khartoum in 2007, long before the Syrian war, opened a restaurant to cater for the influx of his countrymen in Sudan.

“All the young men that work with me have fled the war. I employ around 40 Syrians between two branches and house them all,” Khalid explained.

“Before the Syrians began migrating here in masses I worked at a Syrian restaurant and a factory. I started up the restaurant as a way of helping the young men coming in who I knew would struggle to find work and pay rent.”

“He’s my relative and he’s my relative,” he said, pointing towards men carving a rotating slab of chicken and exchanging money with customers. “I know most of them from back home and knew they were coming. Any man over the age of 18 has no choice but to leave or join the military and face certain death.”

A shared language and the promise of help from old friends and relatives already in Sudan has encouraged more Syrians to make a life there. The streets of Khartoum are now lined with Syrian restaurants.

Every week, two flights arrive from Damascus. Syrian families effortlessly pass through passport control with no need for visas, in stark contrast to the strict border controls they face around the world.

“We began pushing to accommodate Syrian refugees just over a year ago,” says Ahmed Gizouli, Commissioner of Refugees for Sudan. “Initially, there was a small number but this eventually increased, following the orders of the president to allow Syrian refugees entry without a visa.”

While Syrians are thankful to escape dangers and psychological stress of the war back home, they face economic challenges in Khartoum.

Housing shortages and foreign demand have driven up the price of land and rent, leaving newcomers with little time to get on their feet.

Abdelkareem Abuzamar, a 28-year-old working in Khalid’s kitchen, arrived in Sudan from Turkey in the summer of 2015 after struggling to find work in the saturated job market there.

“I got in touch with a Sudanese family on Facebook and told them about my plans to move to Sudan. They met me at the airport and welcomed me into their home,” he said.

“I stayed with them for a month before getting in touch with Anas, my neighbor back home in Syria, and started work with him.”

Though he works 12-hour shifts, Abuzamar still struggles to make ends meet.

“I’m engaged to a Syrian girl I met here but my wages won’t cover the cost of rent. It’s stressful because the cost of living is going up and the wages are staying the same,” he said.

In July, an initiative called Shukran Sudan, Arabic for “thank you Sudan”, was launched by a group of Syrians who handed out sweets and water to passing cars.

“If Sudan closes its doors, Syrians have two options: Turkey or the sea,” said Mazin Abu El-Kheir, founder of the Syrian Support Committee and a dual Syrian-Sudanese citizen from before the war. “And everyone has seen the tragedies that happen at sea.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/23608-syrians-fleeing-war-find-unlikely-refuge-in-sudan.

Oct. 10, 2011

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Oct. 10 (UPI) — Sudan is making necessary preparations that would allow displaced refugees to return to their homes in Darfur, a government official said.

Amin Hassan Omar Abdullah, Sudan’s minster of state for culture, said during multilateral talks in Khartoum that his government had discussed arrangements for displaced refugees to return.

He told the official Sudan News Agency that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said a technical committee was set up to document a trilateral agreement between Chad, the UNHCR and Sudan for refugees.

The refugee issue from Darfur follows orders submitted by the breakaway Sudan Liberation Army’s Historical Leadership that prohibit the use of child soldiers within its regional ranks.

Usman Musa, the group’s leader, in August issued orders to his soldiers to end “all behavior” that leads to the abuse of children and banned “recruiting and using children in the ranks of the movement.”

Other armed movements in Darfur are moving toward similar action, said the U.N. mission there.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1593 in 2005 referred Sudan to the International Criminal Court after evidence emerged of serious rights violations in Darfur.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Khartoum isn’t party to the Rome Statute that created the international court.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/10/10/Sudan-prepares-for-returning-refugees/UPI-76261318263304/.

December 21, 2015

CAIRO (AP) — Ahmed Doury and his wife had fled their home in Sudan’s Darfur region for safety in Jordan. But after Jordanian security forces violently rounded up and deported them and other Sudanese asylum seekers, the 32-year-old says he’s now more determined than ever to go to Europe.

“I will take the sea … I will get out of here by any means necessary,” he said Sunday, adding that it was the only thing he could think about on the flight back to Sudan. Speaking by telephone from the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, he recounted the deportation to The Associated Press with a solemn voice.

Doury had gone to Jordan in 2014, fleeing death threats for his tribal and ethnic ties in the war-devastated Darfur region. He registered as a refugee with the United Nations and worked intermittent menial jobs in the Jordanian capital, Amman, to support himself and his wife.

Feeling discriminated against by authorities, the two joined a makeshift camp outside the U.N. headquarters where other Sudanese were living. On Wednesday, Jordanian security forces stormed the camp, tore it down and forced the asylum seekers onto vans headed to the airport.

The camp’s proximity to the U.N. headquarters had given the group a false sense of safety, he explained. “We have no trust in the U.N. anymore after what happened. No one did anything to help us,” Doury said, echoing a view widely held among Sudanese refugees in Jordan.

“Everyone was beaten … they stepped on the people who fell down,” he said. The troops marched in early in the morning, swearing and indiscriminately beating its inhabitants with rubber and electric batons, he said. They fired tear gas and rubber bullets and at one point shoved a pregnant woman to the ground. She fell, broke a leg and went into labor, he said.

Once dispersed, the Sudanese were driven to a holding bay near the country’s international airport in vans “so crammed, (they) were barely able to breathe.” Although all the asylum seekers were in metal or plastic handcuffs, Jordanian security continued to beat them at the holding area, and the trauma caused another pregnant woman to go into labor, he said.

On Friday, they were put onto planes taking them back to Sudan. Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani denied the use of force against the refugees. U.N. spokeswoman Aoife McDonnell said they believe the majority of those deported were registered refugees. Exact numbers were not available but the U.N. is “concerned about their status and the fear and apprehension that will pervade the remaining community here,” she said.

The agency says majority of some 3,500 Sudanese in Jordan are from the troubled Darfur region where they risk being persecuted. The U.N. had warned Jordan that the deportations violate international laws, but the Jordanian government said Friday that those deported had come under the pretext of seeking medical treatment and that asylum protection did not apply to them.

Some 120 Sudanese managed to escape the dispersal and are now on the run in Jordan. Doury said most of the Sudanese sent back were interrogated for at least two hours upon arrival in Khartoum and allowed to leave, but some have been detained indefinitely.

Doury said his wife, who is two months pregnant, was beaten in the break-up of the camp and now has pelvic and abdominal pain. “I am worried for the baby,” he said, but added that they don’t have money to see a doctor.

Being deported from Jordan may have given him and other asylum seekers the push they needed to brave the seas in search for a better life in Europe. “This is indescribably bad situation,” he said. “We tried the legal way, so now a lot of people will be trying the illegal way.”

Associated Press writers Sam McNeil and Karin Laub in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.

June 15, 2015

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Khartoum on Monday to cheers of supporters after leaving South Africa, where a court had ordered his arrest based on an international warrant for war crimes charges.

Al-Bashir raised a stick in the air as he stepped out of the plane, waving to a few hundred supporters who greeted him at the airport. Some chanted “God is Great” while others cried with joy. A South African court ruled that al-Bashir, who was attending an African Union summit, should be arrested. The ruling came after al-Bashir left.

Al-Bashir, in office since a 1989 military coup, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes allegations linked to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. At the Khartoum airport, supporters of the president raised posters reading “Lion of Africa” scribbled next to a picture of al-Bashir in military uniform and carried a coffin with a white sheet wrapped around it reading: “The ICC to its last resting place.”

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said: “The president will continue his participation (in international events) as usual and the attempts to distract us will not sway us.” In Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the International Criminal Court’s authority must be respected.

However, a Pretoria court’s ruling that al-Bashir should be arrested came after he had left the country and in defiance of an earlier court order that he should remain in the country while judges deliberated on the matter.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo criticized the South African government for failing to heed the instructions of the court. “It is of concern to this court that we issued orders and then things just happened in violation of those orders,” Mlambo said.

International Criminal Court Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart said in an interview with The Associated Press in The Hague, where the court is based, that “in our view it was very clear” that South Africa should have detained al-Bashir so he could have been brought to trial in The Hague.

“Their obligation was to arrest President al-Bashir,” Stewart told AP. “I think, however, what is important to remember is that we act really in the interest of victims,” he added. “The concern of the prosecutor is for the victims of dreadful atrocities and these victims are Africans.”

The International Criminal Court’s charges against al-Bashir stem from reported atrocities in the conflict in Darfur in which 300,000 people were killed and 2 million displaced in the government’s campaign, according to U.N. figures.

South African officials have declined to comment, though William Mokhari, an attorney for the South African government, said African leaders at the summit in Johannesburg had immunity. Leaders of the African Union are cautious about interfering in each other’s affairs and highlighting alleged human rights abuses on a continent with a history of conflict. Critics of the International Criminal Court also say it has unfairly targeted African leaders. But Stewart said most of the African cases were initiated by African governments themselves.

At one point, Mokhari, the South African government lawyer, told the judges that there was no risk of al-Bashir “disappearing” while he attended the summit. But soon after he uttered those words, South African journalist Erika Gibson tweeted photographs of what she said was Sudan’s presidential jet taking off from a South African military base. Sudanese state media then said al-Bashir had left South Africa and that a news conference will be held at the Khartoum airport upon his arrival.

Elise Keppler, international justice acting director for U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, said an opportunity to bring al-Bashir to justice had been missed. “By allowing this shameful flight, the South African government has disregarded not only its international legal obligations, but its own courts,” she said in a statement.

Al-Bashir appeared in a group photo with other African heads of state on Sunday at the summit. The African Union had previously asked the ICC to stop proceedings against sitting presidents and said it will not compel any member states to arrest a leader on behalf of the court.

In a government notice published June 5, South Africa’s minister of international affairs, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, signed an agreement granting diplomatic immunity to delegates participating in the African Union summit.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, a rights group, had gone to court to press for al-Bashir’s arrest. In March, the International Criminal Court halted proceedings against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta after the prosecution said it did not have enough evidence against him. Kenyatta, who is attending the summit in Johannesburg, was charged in 2011 as an “indirect co-perpetrator” in postelection violence that left more than 1,000 people dead in 2007 and 2008. He always maintained his innocence.

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto is on trial for crimes against humanity in the election-related violence.

Michael Corder in The Hague and Christopher Torchia in Pretoria, South Africa, contributed to this report.

June 02, 2015

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday was sworn in for another five-year term extending his 25-year autocratic rule, a testament to his ability to survive civil wars, sanctions and an international war crimes indictment.

In his latest maneuver to survive, al-Bashir has switched alliances, joining ranks with Saudi Arabia, the region’s biggest bankroller, after nearly two decades of strained ties. That means moving away from close relations with the kingdom’s rival Iran, which has long used Sudan as a transit route for weapons shipments to armed groups in the region, particularly Hamas.

Shortly before his re-election, al-Bashir threw his support to the Saudi-led coalition waging an air campaign against Shiite rebels in Yemen who are allied to Iran. The Sudanese contribution to the campaign is largely symbolic — but al-Bashir is likely hoping for Gulf financial support that could keep his beleaguered economy afloat.

“Our relations with Arab brothers have witnessed very positive developments lately, by the grace of God,” al-Bashir declared Tuesday in a speech in Omdurman, neighboring the capital Khartoum, after his swearing-in. By building on the Arab ties, he expressed hopes of eventually normalizing relations with Western nations as well.

Al-Bashir won re-election in April, though opposition parties boycotted the vote. After his victory with an official landslide of 94 percent of the vote, the opposition said in a joint statement that it will not recognize the results and called on the people to join ranks to “topple” al-Bashir.

In his speech Tuesday, al-Bashir pledged to draft a permanent constitution, combat corruption, improve the economy and end conflicts in at least three war-torn regions — Darfur in the west, and Kordofan and the Blue Nile in the south and southwest, all of which have armed uprisings against his rule.

He added a gesture to the opposition, saying “the arms of the nation are open to everyone” and promising amnesty to any armed groups who are “genuine” in entering negotiations. During al-Bashir’s quarter-century in power, Sudan has been plagued by rebel movements, and it lost a third of its territory as South Sudan became independent in 2011. International sanctions over support of terrorism and over the Darfur conflict have battered Sudan’s economy, which was also hit hard after the break with the south gutted oil revenues.

Local papers hailed the foreign policy shift toward Saudi Arabia. A Sudanese daily, Al-Tayar, described the move as “correcting the political position” of Khartoum. The Saudi news site Sabq praised as a breakthrough a visit by al-Bashir to the kingdom in March to meet with Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

Still, Gulf rulers appear to be keeping some public distance. They sent only envoys to attend al-Bashir’s inauguration, a lower level than even foreign minister. The only senior figures to attend were Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and a handful of African leaders, including Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

Despite the absences, “there is a real transformation of relations,” said Hussein Shobokshi, a prominent Saudi newspaper political columnist. He pointed to a large advertising section in the prominent Saudi-owned Al-Sharq Alawsat newspaper promoting investment in Sudan. Chambers of commerce in Riyadh organized workshops on investment in Sudan.

“Saudi Arabia wanted to bring Sudan to the Arab square,” he said, noting the kingdom was concerned over Khartoum’s ties to Iran. But Sudanese journalist Faisal Mohammed Saleh said the low-level Gulf representation Tuesday sent a message of “don’t expect much.”

He said that al-Bashir may get some relative financial rewards from warming ties. “The price will be to stop using Sudan to supply weapons to armed groups in the region,” he said. But, he added, it is unrealistic to think the Gulf will help him restore relations with the West.

Al-Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, is the only sitting head of state facing genocide charges at the International Criminal Court. The charges stem from reported atrocities in the conflict in Darfur, in which 300,000 people were killed and 2 million displaced in the government’s campaign, according to United Nations figures.

Relations deteriorated between Sudan and Gulf countries in 1990s, when Sudan along with Yemen allied with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein after the invasion of Kuwait. Ties with Iran complicated relations. In August 2013, Saudi Arabia banned the plane of al-Bashir from crossing its airspace on its way to Iran.

Iran helped supply weapons to al-Bashir in his 1989 coup and has invested in Sudanese water and engineering projects. Though China is Sudan’s main arms source, Iran is also a supplier and signed a military relations deal with Khartoum in 2008.

Israel routinely accuses Iran of smuggling weapons to Hamas in Gaza through Sudan, which has a long desert border with Egypt. In October 2012, a suspected Israeli airstrike against a weapons factory in Khartoum, killing four people.

In March, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti insisted Khartoum has only diplomatic relations with Tehran, denying it had ever had any alliance with Iran. “This is mere lie against Sudan,” he said.

AP correspondent Mohamed Osman in Khartoum, Sudan, contributed to this report.

April 15, 2015

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan extended voting another day in its presidential and legislative election Wednesday as campaigners went door to door to seek voters amid a low turnout that saw poll workers eating and praying to pass the time.

While state media trumpeted a “successful vote,” most centers appeared empty amid widespread apathy about a vote certain to extend President Omar al-Bashir’s 25-year rule despite an economic crisis and insurgencies roiling parts of Sudan. Al-Bashir also is the only sitting world leader wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges, which are linked to the long-running conflict in Darfur.

Sudan’s opposition, weakened by a government crackdown, is boycotting the vote and have called for the formation of a transitional government. “People are boycotting because this is a government that humiliated, terrorized, made us lose hope and stole our dreams. This is a government that led Sudan to a state of war,” activist Zahra Haidar told The Associated Press.

Haidar and a dozen opposition figures gathered at the house of a young activist named Sandra Kadouda, who disappeared this week after joining an anti-election campaign. Wednesday night, Kadouda was found dumped in a street after being badly beaten and interrogated about anti-al-Bashir campaigns, said Galal Youssef, a political detainees’ coordinator.

Youssef said Kadouda was “taken blindfolded and left blindfolded.” Authorities have denied detaining her. To increase turnout, authorities gave awards for polling centers with high turnout. Voters were not required to even show their IDs in order to cast a vote, with many carrying a piece of paper obtained from a local city council their home address. Witnesses said that ruling party campaigners went house to house, calling on people to vote.

At one Khartoum polling center in the upper-middle-class neighborhood of al-Riyadh, turnout was only 15 percent after three days of voting, election official Youssef Ibrahim said. Other workers spread out mattresses in the empty poll place while some drank tea.

“Even if you give people a month, they won’t come if they don’t want to come,” Ibrahim said. “The people are fed up. After 25 years, people have had enough.”

April 13, 2015

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan began voting Monday in an election expected to be won by President Omar al-Bashir, the world’s only sitting leader wanted on genocide charges.

Voters slowly began arriving to polling places in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Opposition parties, citing a lack of freedom of speech and assembly in the African country, are boycotting the vote, which includes electing candidates for the country’s legislative council.

Voter lists hung on walls at polling stations. Some police officers and soldiers lined up with civilians to vote. Ahmed Sulieman, a university professor, was one of a handful of voters at the polling place in St. Francis School in downtown Khartoum. He described voting as the only way for a “peaceful transition of power” in this country of 35 million people.

“Many countries are suffering amid power struggles,” Sulieman said. “I am here for the sake of stability and safety.” Al-Bashir has ruled Sudan unchallenged for 25 years and presents himself as a symbol of stability. He survived the 2011 Arab Spring and his massive security apparatus has left the once-vibrant opposition a husk of its former self.

The 2011 secession of South Sudan, which ended Africa’s longest-running civil war, deprived Khartoum of a third of its territory and population, and nearly 80 percent of its oil revenues. Smaller armed conflicts are currently raging in other parts of his country.

As long as he remains president, al-Bashir remains immune from being sent to the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide during the Darfur conflict, which left 300,000 people dead and 2 million displaced.

Economic losses from South Sudan’s succession forced al-Bashir to embark on austerity measures in 2013 that sparked the largest anti-government demonstrations of his rule. Security forces clamped down, killing some 200 people and arresting hundreds more.

Mohammed Hashim, a businessman who voted Monday, defended the crackdown, saying “detentions are meant to preserve the rights of others.” “The Arab Spring produced wars and failed in embodying people’s dreams,” he said. “The Arab Spring failed and what we have here is better.”

Nearly 13 million people are registered to vote. Results are expected on April 27.

March 17, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — It was an awkward reminder of the world’s failure to hold to account a president accused of war crimes: A group photo from Egypt’s economic summit over the weekend shows U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry standing just behind Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

Even as the International Criminal Court scolds the U.N. Security Council to make sure a defiant al-Bashir faces trial on charges of orchestrating genocide in Sudan’s western Darfur region, the United Nations appears to be easing away from the conflict. Under pressure from al-Bashir, the U.N. opened talks this month with Sudan on a plan for a large peacekeeping mission to leave Darfur.

The Security Council on Tuesday discussed the troubled mission and how its eventual departure will affect a civil war that once drew the world’s outrage. U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the council the security situation has “deteriorated significantly” in the past year.

The idea of a withdrawal alarms observers of the chaos in Darfur, where nearly half a million people were displaced last year, the most in a decade. The U.N. has blamed the spike in violence largely on a new rapid action force backed by Sudan’s government, which has been fighting rebels across the vast region since 2003. More than 300,000 people have been killed overall.

Some suggest that al-Bashir, who is running for re-election this year, is just posturing and doesn’t really want to lose the benefits of a $1.3 billion-a-year peacekeeping mission. But last year he ordered the expulsion of top U.N. officials and the closure of the mission’s human rights office in the capital, Khartoum, and called for an “exit strategy” for the joint U.N.-African Union force, which numbers more than 20,000.

Adding to the tension was the mass rape of more than 220 women in a Darfur village last October by Sudanese army troops. The peacekeeping force, called UNAMID, has been blocked from entering the village after a brief and inconclusive visit shortly after reports of the mass rape emerged.

But Human Rights Watch pieced together details of the attack through more than 100 interviews with local residents, calling it “a new low in the catalog of atrocities in Darfur.” No progress was announced Tuesday on getting access to the village. “As you know, this is something that has gone on far too long,” a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters.

That a single Human Rights Watch researcher could produce a damning report through telephone calls alone, while one of the U.N.’s largest peacekeeping efforts has appeared powerless to act, shows the deep disconnect between the mission and Sudan, said Ryan D’Souza, advocacy officer for the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect.

“It’s the worst unkept secret: The mission is failing,” D’Souza said. At the same time, “a withdrawal would send al-Bashir the message that he’d won.” UNAMID has long been criticized for its ineffectiveness in Darfur. It also has become the third-most deadly mission for peacekeepers in U.N. history. At least 215 members have been killed since it was created in 2007.

A new report by the secretary-general says the mission’s downsizing has begun. A total of 770 posts will be gone by April. And UNAMID now has measures to repatriate underperforming members, “in light of several incidents in which military units failed to respond effectively to armed attacks.” Ladsous gave no details.

Sudan’s deputy representative to the U.N. would not say Tuesday how soon Sudan wants the peacekeeping mission out of the country. A fuller exit strategy, based on the new talks among Sudan, the U.N. and the AU, is expected by the end of May.

One Sudanese activist with projects in Darfur, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of safety concerns, said al-Bashir associates the peacekeeping mission with the Security Council’s referral of the Darfur situation to the ICC in 2005. That led to al-Bashir being charged with genocide.

Since then, Sudan’s president has traveled to several countries without being arrested. And the Security Council now faces its sharpest divide since the Cold War. Permanent member Russia can block action on Sudan with a veto, backed by China. Both countries have business interests there.

The activist is upset with al-Bashir’s actions, but also impatient with UNAMID: “The mandate of the mission is just observing. What is the use of observing violations if they don’t interfere?” If that doesn’t change, the activist said, “I think they should leave.”